NPower Programme Suspension Linked to Flaws and Irregularities.
Abuja, Nigeria – Further details surrounding the indefinite suspension of the NPower programme, a federal government National Social Investment Programme, have emerged. The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu, initially announced the suspension during a television interview, citing several flaws within the scheme.
In a statement released on Sunday, the minister elaborated on the reasons for suspending the program, shedding light on some of the irregularities that led to this decision.
One key issue highlighted by the minister was the discovery that certain consultants had not released funds to beneficiaries despite their contracts ending in March 2023, raising questions about the accountability of these consultants.
Additionally, some beneficiaries were found to have other jobs while still receiving NPower payments, while others who genuinely worked had not been compensated.
The program’s suspension is also motivated by the need for a thorough audit to determine the number of participants, those who have exited the program, beneficiaries still owed stipends, whether participants reported to work as required, and the utilization of funds over the past year.
The statement, signed by the National Programme Manager of NPower, Dr. Akindele Egbuwalo on behalf of the minister, further revealed that instances were discovered where beneficiaries who had not participated since 2022 were still expecting payments. This raised concerns about the presence of “ghost beneficiaries.”
Regarding what has been uncovered so far, Edu stated, “Preliminary findings of our audit have shown that some consultants are holding on to beneficiaries’ funds disbursed to them long ago, even when their contract ended in March 2023 without any renewal. We condemn this practice and will not tolerate it going forward.”
In addition to addressing these issues, the minister outlined plans for the expansion and transformation of the NPower program. The age bracket for beneficiaries is set to be expanded from 18 to 40 years old, compared to the previous limit of 35. The program aims to accommodate five million beneficiaries over the next five years, with a focus on graduate and non-graduate streams.
The restructuring will also introduce new programs in areas such as Education, Health, Works, Agriculture, Technology, fashion, entertainment, and other relevant fields for skill acquisition and employability.
Edu emphasized the importance of transparency and accountability in the expanded program, pledging to restore confidence among Nigerians. She stated, “It shall no longer be business as usual as we make concerted efforts to put the nation on the right footing, ensuring that no one directly or indirectly unleashes suffering on Nigerians.
The minister reassured beneficiaries with genuine claims that their cases would be resolved after completing the verification exercise, and all valid outstanding obligations would be honored, ensuring that nobody would be owed.